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The invention of the first hat ever made is still unknown. However, it is believed that people first wore hats in order to protect themselves from the climate. People who lived 100,000 years ago may have worn fur hoods in order to keep themselves warm. The practice of wearing hats would soon cause a change in the way people lived and worked.

As people grew more "organized" and "orderly" hats were worn in order to show social status. For example, the crown. This type of hat may have been around as early as 3100 b.c. The ancient Greeks and Romans also wore hats as way to express their social status. Hats called "pelos" were usually made of wool fibers and were worn by the Ancient Greeks. They can still be found today in parts of Siberia.

By 1300 a.d., hats were worn more for fashion rather than to classify social status. This new idea resulted in the development of a larger variety and constant changes in hat styles. During the 14th and 15th centuries, women in western Europe started wearing hat styles that resembled a turban. This practice was, that hat styles were being adpoted from other hat styles, occured often in those times.

The first hat factory was established in 1780 by a craftworker by the name of Zadoc Benedict. It was located in Danbury, Connecticut, U.S.A. A New York City manufacturer, John Nicholas Genin, made the first soft felt hats for women in 1851.

The 20th century marked the "explosion of hat styles." In other words, it was a time when hat styles grew more and more varied in style. Here are two names of hats and a brief description describing each one that were worn during the earlier 20th century:

After the 1940s and '50s, the popularity of hat-wearing began to decline for both men and women.

HATS:Fashions in History

Besides being used for ceremonial purposes, to symbolize rank, or protection from weather, hats have served fashion needs. In the 14th century, beaver hats became very fashionable in Flanders, and later the craze spread to France, England, and elsewhere. Women's hats continued to become more elaborate. The hennin, or steeple headress, was fashionable in France and Flanders between 1460 and 1480 along with the turban and butterfly headress. By the 16th century, the hood was very popular for women. In the 17th century, Europeans wore their hats inside as well as out. European and American women wore the calash, a bonnet that resembled the extension top of a French carriage. At about 1760, the silk hat originated in Florence, and later came to England in 1810. In 1850, the bowler, known as the derby in th United States, was introduced. The softfelt hat became popular in the United States next, in the last quarter of the century. Men in Western countries wore styles that had originated in the 19th century until the early 1960s, when fur, wool felts, cloth, and suede hats in a variety of styles became popular.

In the Eastern countries, colorful turbans have always been worn for fashion and weather protection. In the tropics, helmets of pith are worn to protect the wearers from the sun. In eastern and southern Mediteranian countries, the fez was popular. In India the fez and turban were popular, along with the Gandi cap. The people of Asia had simple hats, such as the Chinese coolie hat, and decrative hats, such as the Japanese kammuri. In Latin America and in the southwestern United States, the sombrero, which offered good protection from the sun, was popular.


Hats were invented, quite simply, because people needed protection from the sun. But the invention of hats meant much more than that; in addition to enabling workers to work longer, year-long hours in the sun, planting and harvesting crops, hats became a symbol of social class, directed fashion and hair-styles, were cultural accessories, later protected people's heads from falling debris and bad falls in strenuous work and sports, had religous implications, and continued to evolve over the years, with the invention/discovery of different uses and materials.

Hats Marked Social Class

Hats were signs of rank, creating a visual distiction between the social classes, from the early times.

In ancient Rome, when a slave was freed, he/she was given a cone-shaped felt hat, which was the symbol of the working class.

In Europe, men of the upper class generally didn't weart hats.

In Egypt, hats were marked with signs of rank. The asp stood for royaly and kingly power, while the feather stood for stateliness.


Hats were important enough as a fashionable accessory that, back when America was a colony of Britian, the British wouldn't allow the Americans to mmanufacture bever pelt hats for trade with the other European countries. The beaver pelt hat was so popular that England was concerned that the colonists would make too much money trading them. This law, made by the British king and parliament, was called the Hat Act, and was part of a siuccession of laws that limited the abilities of the colonists, contributing to the need for a revolution.


The invention of hats allowed workers to work longer hours in the fields, which increased comfort and decreased the risk of sunburn/stroke. When metal was discovered and could be converted to different uses, hats were made of different metals called helmets. These helmets protect heads from bad falls, debris, etc. This allowed mine and construction workers to work without as much danger. These professions were declared more safe, so laborers increased, and wages went down. Helmets and other safety measures became an important aspect in jobs to the Union. Many things are made possible by helmets, in fact, such as hobbies like biking, rollarblading, hang-gliding, rock-climbing (etc.) and professions like flying a plane, construction/mine work, etc. Members of the army, navy, costal guard, police/fire force, etc. etc. etc. also use helmets, reducing the risk of brain-or-other-serious-head-damage.


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2006 March 28